The sugar tax, announced by the chancellor as he unveiled his budget, has nothing to do with the sugar contents of the products it is levied on and will be a burden on the poorest families in UK, Taxpayers’ Alliance says.
The Treasury said soft drinks would be taxed because they are the main source of added sugar in children’s diets.
Anti-obesity campaigners have applauded the move as a significant step in the fight against child obesity.
The recommended maximum intake of added sugar per day for those aged 11 and over is about 30g or seven teaspoons, the NHS says.
However, the Taxpayers’ Alliance group wants the levy to be axed.
The group tested 49 drinks and found that some coffee shop drinks contained more sugar than Coca Cola, but were not under the taxable category.
Soft drinks have less sugar than milk based drinks
The sugar tax is aimed at high-sugar drinks, particularly fizzy drinks. The tax would not be levied on pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks and the smallest producers will have an exemption from the scheme.
However, the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) survey found that Coca-Cola has 10.6g of sugar per 100ml, in comparison to a Starbucks signature hot chocolate with whipped cream with coconut milk, which has 11g of sugar per 100ml.
The study by the group also showed that energy drinks such as Monster Origin, 11g/100ml, would be taxed, but Tesco chocolate flavoured milk, 12.4g/100ml, would not be.
Sugar tax is a ‘Regressive tax’
The group found that the 10 most sugary drinks analysed by the group would not be subject to the tax.
TPA chief executive Jonathan Isaby said,
“The evidence shows that the sugar tax has nothing to do with the sugar content of products, so it is farcical to suggest that this will have any positive impact on people’s diet or lifestyle choices,” he said.
He added that it was “deeply concerning” that the government was “pushing ahead with this regressive tax which will hit the poorest families hardest”.
However, a Treasury spokesman said the soft drinks industry levy was “a major step forward in our efforts to tackle childhood obesity”.
“Treating obesity and its consequences costs the taxpayer £5.1bn every year,” he said.
“The levy will be charged on soft drinks because they are the main source of added sugar in children’s and teenagers’ diets, many with no intrinsic nutritional value.
“Health experts agree there is a specific problem with sugar-laden fizzy drinks that must be addressed.”
He said the money raised from the sugar tax would be utilised for funding more school sport and expanding school breakfast clubs.
The most high-profile supporter of the sugar tax has been TV chef Jamie Oliver, who has introduced a sugar levy in his restaurants.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has also spoken out in favour of the tax. He announced the health service will be introducing its own “tax” in hospitals.